The dust that lined the baseboards had been building its home in the quiet darkness for almost four years. It feathered in the humid summer as air forced its way around the curves and corners powered by a box fax across the room, but it never lost its resolve. On Labor Day, it let loose. It made its way into my nostrils and lungs, stuck to the skin of my sweat-moistened stomach as I dragged out piles of unmatched socks and empty shoeboxes from the depths of my almost walk-in closet, clad only in a neon yellow tie-died sports bra and basketball shorts, on another steamy Chicago end-of-summer day.
Marathon training had been the impetus of a 12-mile run on Saturday morning and a 16-mile bike ride on Sunday afternoon, but I am a rule-follower, and Mondays are rest days. Overwhelmed by the impotence of a Monday off of work with no run to run, I decided at some point in the early afternoon that my bedroom closet would be the day's project. I could write or draw dinosaurs (two actually purposeful activities), but I craved a physical activity maybe to avoid a mental one.
I went through my closet, hanger by hanger, and removed some of my favorite shirts, shoving them deep into a donation bag, feeling reckless and irritated at my lifelong nostalgia. I decided I was out of my sneaker phase, replacing four pairs of infrequently worn, seriously worn-in shoes with a few sets of high heels on the shelf above my head.
Sneezing and sweating, I cleaned. The computer blared indie dance tunes from the front room and the cat stayed safely hidden away from the commotion. I made a new space for the shoes that lived mostly in the hallway, and the stack of wicking shirts that had found a home on the floor. I found coins and bobby pins and, for some reason, three cylinders of Smarties.
I imagined moving to my next place, and a shared closet with my girlfriend that wasn’t overrun by my clutter. I imagined loving my home so much that I would care too much to somehow let delicious packs of pastel colored candies get loose and live in the shadows of my GAP collared shirts.
The Great Closet Clean of 2013 was part girl-who-can’t-sit-still, part physical exercise, and part ode to commitment. In the weeks that precede yet another birthday, I want to continue to grow. I want to prove to myself that I am not done evolving. I also don’t want to end up on an episode of Hoarders.